Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Role of the Law in Society in Shakespeare's “Merchant of Venice”One of the goals of law is to maintain social order by applying a set of standards to be followed by all citizens of a society.Yet, laws often have unintentional loopholes, for they are limited by the fact that they cannot anticipate all possible violations of the behaviors they seek to prevent.
At the hearing before the court, Shylock says “it is my humour" in response to the question why he wants a pound of flesh, yet his persistence and insistence are so intense that it is clear that the debt owed to him is more symbolic than money.
In building your argument about what that debt is, and what its payment represents, look to Shylock’s experiences and words for clues as to his underlying motives.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Roles of Women in play significant roles in the fates of all characters.
Portia and Nerissa cleverly disguise themselves as an esteemed lawyer and clerk, respectively, and interpret the law in such a way that Antonio and Bassanio are let off the hook, while Shylock is forced into a position of utter humiliation.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Shakespeare’s Evocation of the Reader’s Sympathy in “The Merchant of Venice”Shylock is a man who is despised by many, and he certainly has moments of extreme irrationality and inflexible insistence that make him a rather unappealing and even deplorable character.
Yet, there are many moments in which Shakespeare prevails upon the reader to consider the multidimensionality of this most complex character.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Meaning of the Pound of Flesh in “The Merchant of Venice”The money-lender Shylock in Shakespeare's “The Merchant of Venice” demands a pound of flesh from the merchant Antonio, who vouches for Bassanio, his dear friend and the man who has borrowed money from Shylock.
Shylock (click for an in-depth character analysis of Shylock) is portrayed as a greedy character in “The Merchant of Venice,” but the pound of flesh must represent something more symbolic, as it obviously does not have the equivalent value of money.
Develop an argumentative essay on “The Merchant of Venice” in which you defend this decision or contest it.
Be certain to note the differences between justice and fairness as legal and moral concepts.